Rhubarb have you heard of it? Do you grow it in your garden? Rhubarb is one of the plants that everyone in my family always grew. I think everyone had a rhubarb plant and I really didn’t understand why, until I was older and realized that it’s easy to grow this plant at least in the cooler climates.
One of the reasons rhubarb is an easy plant to grow is because it comes back each year. Unless there is a bad freeze and it kills the plant or it gets too waterlogged and you have crown rot, this plant just keeps coming back and getting bigger.
I call it the weed of the vegetable gardening, because once it’s established you are pretty well set for rhubarb.
There are a few things you can do to make sure your rhubarb gets off to a good start in your garden. Once established it takes very little care.
I’ve read that the green stalk rhubarb with just a hint of red is easier to grow than the full red stalk rhubarb so if you have any trouble with the red stalk variety, you might try the green stalk instead.
Best Location for Rhubarb
Rhubarb prefers full sun, be sure to pick a sunny location in the garden. Where I planted mine it does get half day shade and does well, but full sun is best. Unless you are in a warmer climate then you want to make sure it gets afternoon shade to keep it happy.
Rhubarb does best in areas where the temperature falls below 40 degrees in the winter and is below 75 degrees in the summer.
To get the rhubarb going it’s best to plant crowns that are one year old in the spring while it’s dormant before growth begins or before plant leafs out. If you have a neighbor with a rhubarb plant you might be able to get part of the plant when they divide there’s. Since rhubarb needs to be divided about every 3-4 years.
Before planting make sure to eliminate weeds in the planting area around the rhubarb. Rhubarb needs to have well drained, fertile soil to grow well.
Dig a large hole to plant the rhubarb in and be sure to mix in compost, manure, and other organic materials to help feed your plant. Rhubarb is a heavy feeders and need the organic matter. Avoid chemical fertilizer the first year as direct contact with nitrates can kill your rhubarb.
If you are planting more than one rhubarb plant be sure to allow 3-4 feet between the plants. They can get pretty big.
Rhubarb plants need to be water regularly. Be sure to provide enough moisture during the summer. I have a sprinkler head at each of my rhubarb plants and water them regularly through the warm weather season.
I don’t fertilize my rhubarb at all. I do add a little compost around them each year. But I avoid the center or crown of the plant. If you cover the crown of the plant you can get crown rot.
Do not harvest stalks in the first growing season to help the plant get established. After the first year, harvest the stalks when they are about a foot to foot and a half long.
To pick the stalk, grab the stalk at the base of the plant and pull it away from the plant with a twist. Keep the stalks and discard the leaves. The leaves are not edible, be sure to discard the leaves.
I usually harvest just the largest stalks and just what I need for the recipe or what I want to preserve. I usually get a good harvest in the spring and a small thinner stalk harvest in the fall.
My favorite way to preserve rhubarb is to wash and slice the stalks. Then measure them into two cup portions and freeze them. It’s really that easy. No blanching is needed.
Rhubarb Recipes to Try with Your Next Harvest
That’s all there is to growing rhubarb in your own backyard garden. I live in a cooler, wetter, climate and this perennial plant just seems to thrive on very little care. If you live in an area that is warmer you might try growing it in the shade as it might do better.